P-47D Wheel Wells

Published: March 30th, 2012     
Detail Parts
Detail Parts
Reviewed by: Bill Hollis - IPMS# 42250
Scale: 1/32
Price: $32.00
Product / Stock #: 2122
Product provided by: Aires Hobby Models

This is a fine addition to the model maker's resin arsenal by our friends over at Aires. It goes a long way toward addressing one of the weaker areas of many Thunderbolt kits.

The design of the original plane presents mold makers with something of a difficulty, given that the wheel wells of the lower mid-mounted wing extend into the fuselage. The fact that the wells on any P-47 model are eminently visible, and the full size version fairly complicated to boot, make matters more gnarly yet for the finesse- and detail-conscious modeler.

Some makers, like Monogram, simply ignore the issue and leave it to the builder to gloss over out-of-place seams in the well, or find other ways to deal with what can amount to a detail eyesore. Ironically, the engineers at Hasegawa neatly dealt with this glitch in their 1/32 scale P-47 (for which this kit is intended), so the offending seam is not there, even when built out of the box. The kit parts, while accurate enough in themselves, still lack a good amount of fine detail that should be present if a first-class replica is the desired end product. This leaves the modeler with the options of providing the detail himself via plastic bits and wire or trading money for time, purchasing this excellent little kit.

What can I say? This is a typical Aires product: absolutely first rate molding, accuracy and attention to detail, minimalist instructions in two languages, and a museum-quality finished product. If you're seeking quick gratification or drop in fit, look elsewhere; this set lends itself only to a good deal of fitting and modification of kit parts. Good references are also indispensable as well, since parts placement in the single blue sheet instruction package is often vague, at best. So, arm yourself with Squadron/Signal's P-47 Thunderbolt Walk Around and/or P-47 Thunderbolt by Detail and Scale and have at it.

First up are the lower wings themselves. The instructions indicate loosely what needs to be done, but stop after showing the desired kit insert being added. What it does not show is how much material, including most of the molded wheel well locating tabs, must be removed for a proper fit. Be prepared for some serious cutting, scraping, and thinning. Nothing hard, it's a normal cut and fit exercise, but very important if this set is going to have the proper final look.

That said, the Aires wells themselves are actually best fitted primarily into the appropriate slots in their respective fuselage halves, and then the wings added around them. I found this approach gave more rigid attachment points and made final alignment much easier. Of course, they don't come anywhere near to fitting as supplied and must be thinned down on both front and back edges as shown in the pictures until a good slip fit is obtained.

Once this basic fitting is accomplished, painting can proceed with your favorite colors, washes, dry brush, and detail technique. This is where this set's potential really comes to the fore, and the perfection of Aires' product really begins to assert itself.
Detail assembly is basically easy, with all the small resin parts fitting exactly and perfectly into their assigned spaces. There are one or two suggestions, however, to help you avoid some of the nastier mine fields this kit can serve up for the unwary.

First, the wheel cover doors are beautifully molded but their hinges are more delicate than a politician's ego. They will break if you so much as glance at them wrong; be warned.

Second, I recommend replacing all the hydraulic piston rams with short lengths of cut up straight pins, and the separate hydraulic flex lines with appropriate lengths of solder or wire. It will give you better scale fidelity, add strength to the parts, be easier to install, and take less time than trying to separate and clean up the kit's supplied items.

Third, on final installation, slip RP17 and RP8, the wheel cover door actuator pistons, through their respective frame segments RP15 and RP5 before trying to install them in the well (see picture). For me, it was pretty much impossible any other way. Placement of this complicated little arrangement is nowhere near obvious from the instructions, but photos in both references listed above will clear things up for you. It should also be left until final assembly of the whole airplane, as it's very delicate and just kind of hangs out there waiting to be knocked off and lost forever in the carpet.

That's about it: a superb bit of resin artistry that, while requiring more work than it might first appear, rewards the builder with a final result well beyond the scratchbuilding capabilities of most of us mere mortals.

Highly recommend.

My thanks go to Aires for the review example and to IPMS/USA for the opportunity to use it.

  • Instructions
    Instructions
  • Parts
    Parts
  • Comparison with Hasegawa well
    Comparison with Hasegawa well
  • Fit before trimming
    Fit before trimming
  • Edges shaped for correct fit
    Edges shaped for correct fit
  • Fit after trimming
    Fit after trimming
  • Well and gear door
    Well and gear door
  • Replaced strut and wiring
    Replaced strut and wiring
  • Door actuator in place
    Door actuator in place

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